Throughout most of the twentieth century, high schools were seen as the end of formal public education. After high school, some students went to college, mainly those interested in the professions—medicine, law, architecture, engineering, and so on—but most went right to work or started a family. There were some vocational courses offered in high school, mainly because there was federal funding and it was often viewed as an outlet for students not perceived as academically inclined, but by and large, vocational education was not viewed as a means for students to develop and explore career interests or link what they learned in school to their desired futures.
Today more than 75% of good jobs, jobs that can support a family, require a high school diploma and additional post-secondary schooling or training. Currently, though, about 30% of high school graduates attempt to go into the workforce. After high school, they want to work. It's an honored family tradition and they want to get on with their lives. But by age 21, most find themselves working part-time jobs with periods of unemployment and not making enough to fully support themselves, let alone a family. They realize the world has in fact changed, and they now need to go back to school for a degree or additional training to expand their range of opportunities. But they've been out of school for several years. And so they struggle to succeed when they go back, and they often pick up debt along the way.
There must be a better way, a way for high schools to connect students with stable futures post-graduation, and we're here to dig into how this can happen with Anne Stanton, President of the Linked Learning Alliance (CA), an organization which works with schools to help them integrate college preparation and career development to give students pathways to adult success.